John Deere snowmobiles appeared on the market in the early ‘70s. In those years, more and more manufacturers wanted to take advantage of the ongoing boom in the snow-sport market, and Deere wasn’t an exception. Therefore, the American manufacturer entered the market and produced many great sleds from 1971 to 1982, but sales continued until 1984. If you are looking for a John Deere snowmobile for sale, this post is for you.
Besides the history of these legendary sleds, you can also learn where you can still find one!
John Deere Snowmobile History
It’s safe to say that John Deere was one of the most well-known lawn and garden equipment manufacturers in the late ‘60s.
But since their products were seasonal, the manufacturer was actively looking for new opportunities. Making snowmobiles seemed like a good idea as the manufacturer had an opportunity to shift its production between these two markets depending on the season.
John Deere started to design and develop sleds in 1969 by testing and studying competitor snowmobile models. The company didn’t actually copy those sleds but went a step further and tried to improve the design of the competitor sleds in many ways.
As a result of this effort, John Deere developed two great sleds, which were introduced in 1971.
The 1972 John Deere 400 was powered by a 339cc engine while the model 500 got a more powerful, 436cc engine option. These sleds were known for high quality and reliability, but their handling wasn’t as good as that provided by other market-leading models.
Just like many other sleds at that time, these machines featured a “bogie-wheel” suspension system mounted to a welded steel tunnel.
The new John Deere snowmobile line was advertised with the well-known slogan: “Nothing Runs Like a Deere.” Besides the sleds, the manufacturer offered many great snowmobile suits.
The snowmobile market was hungry for better performance, and Deere had to keep up with competitor manufacturers.
For the 1973 model year, the manufacturer rounded up its fleet to five models. The new sleds were the more powerful 600, JDX4, and the JDX8.
The cheapest John Deere snowmobile was the model 400 as it was available for $1,195. The more powerful model 500 was still affordable, as the price of this sled was only $1,325.
The flagship model in the fleet was arguably the John Deere JDX8, which featured a Salisbury 850 clutch and the CCW 440 power source.
Production expanded rapidly and this year John Deere sold more than 12,000 snowmobiles in one year.
The 1974 model line included three new models, the 295/S, 300, and the JDX6, while the predecessor JDX8 wasn’t available this year.
In 1975 the JDX8 made a comeback, and the new John Deere 800 was also released.
For the 1976 model year, the entire JDX family was canceled to make room for the newest models. The new lineup included eight different models, which were as follows:
- 340 Cyclone
- 340 Liquifire
- 440 Liquifire
- 440 Cyclone
The following year, the Liquidator was eliminated while the other models remained basically unchanged.
In 1978 the smaller John Deere Spitfire was introduced. This sled was powered by a Kohler 339cc twin engine, which produced 28 HP. However, it’s not the engine of which this machine has become famous.
Instead, the Spitfire was the first direct-drive snowmobile in history, SnowGoer reports.
This sled caught the attention of many buyers at first, but over time it started to lose its popularity.
That same year, the manufacturer released a new slogan: “Big John – Little John,” which was in use until 1980. This slogan referred to the smaller dimensions of the new Spitfire model.
In 1979 the company also introduced two new sleds, the 440 and the 340 Trailfire.
In 1980 the Winter Olympic Games took place in New York. John Deere grabbed the opportunity and become the snowmobile supplier for the games.
Unfortunately, the snowmobile industry was declining in those years and finally John Deere stopped manufacturing sleds in 1982. However, stock sleds were sold through the 1983-1984 model year.
The latest John Deere snowmobile on the market was the Snowfire, which was also the last production sled with a free-air engine.
John Deere Snowmobile Models
Finally, more than 20 John Deere Snowmobiles were in production over the years, the most important of which are as follows:
- John Deere 300
- John Deere 400
- John Deere 500
- John Deere 600
- John Deere 800
- John Deere JDX4, JDX4 Special
- John Deere JDX6
- John Deere JDX8
- John Deere JD295/S
- John Deere JD340/S
- John Deere 340 Cyclone
- John Deere 440 Cyclone
- John Deere 340 Liquifire
- John Deere 440 Liquifire
- John Deere 340 Cross Country
- John Deere 340 Liquidator
- John Deere Liquifire
- John Deere Spitfire
- John Deere Sprintfire
- John Deere Sportfire
- John Deere Trailfire
- John Deere Snowfire
John Deere Snowmobiles for Sale
Although John Deere snowmobiles are quite aged machines, they still appear on the trails and in vintage races.
To the greatest regret of many young sledders, new snowmobiles have become more and more expensive.
That’s why vintage John Deere snowmobiles are gaining in popularity. They are affordable and feature a simple design, which results in easy maintenance.
The latest models are especially popular among buyers as they have more advanced features and more powerful engines.
If you’re considering purchasing one, the good news is that these old sleds still appear on the used market. If you are lucky, you can find some used John Deere snowmobiles for sale on Craigslist, eBay, Snowmobiletrader, or other online snowmobile classified websites.
Besides these dedicated ad sites, it’s recommended that you visit some John Deere snowmobile forums and FB groups. If you do your research, you may find some good deals along with a lot of valuable info on these iconic sleds!
FAQs About Vintage John Deere Snowmobiles
When did John Deere Stop Making Snowmobiles?
According to the manufacturer’s archive records, John Deere stopped making snowmobiles in 1982 but many say it actually happened a year later. Although production was stopped, John Deere sleds were available at dealerships through the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
Why did John Deere Stop Making Snowmobiles?
One of the main reasons why John Deere stopped making snowmobiles was arguably the recession that hit the snowmobile market in the early ‘80s. Another lesser-known issue was that Robert John Carlson left the company. He was not only the executive vice president but also the power source of the entire snowmobile division. Because of this, John Deere decided to terminate its entire snowmobile program and focus on other markets instead. Finally, the company sold its entire snowmobile business to Polaris, including all snowmobile-related assets and resources.
What Years did John Deere Make Snowmobiles?
It’s safe to say that John Deere snowmobiles were manufactured from 1971 to 1982 but certain models were available until 1984.
John Deere’s snowmobile program started in the late ‘60s, and the first sleds were introduced in 1971.
At that time, a lot of manufacturers wanted to take advantage of the ongoing boom of the snowmobile market, and JD was no exception.
According to the archives, more than 100 new snowmobile manufacturers entered this market, but many of them disappeared within a short time.
Unlike these little companies, John Deere snowmobiles remained in production for more than a decade. While the first lineup contained only two models, the fleet was extended with several new models over the years.
Finally, a recession hit the snowmobile market and the manufacturer sold its snowmobile business to Polaris in the early ‘80s.
Since then, vintage John Deere snowmobiles are still popular and are among the most wanted items of many collectors and vintage sled enthusiasts.
If you are looking for a John Deere snowmobile for sale, it’s recommended that you visit Craigslist, eBay, the largest snowmobile classified sites, or even some of the most popular snowmobile forums!